PORT HAWKESBURY: The Port Hawkesbury Regional Occupation Centre (ROC) held a soft opening for its new store on November 9, with a grand opening slated for the spring.

The new ROC store features the baked goods and crafts of the former shop but now also includes second-hand clothing, and products such as soaps and body care items from local artisans.

“It means better opportunities for our members,” said Shauna Cotton, development coordinator with the ROC. “For adults with disabilities, it’s hard for them to find employment out in the community. Sometimes their resume is very short. With having the store here, they’re learning money handling, pricing, sizing, customer service skills, cleaning skills, all kinds of stuff like that they can add to their resume and take out to the community should they find employment.”

- Advertisement -

Earlier this year, the federal government announced $500,000 for a renovation and expansion to the local facility, with the funds going towards a new roof, a wheelchair ramp, flooring throughout the main level, new windows, and kitchen upgrades, as well as the used clothing store and rental space. Other funding partners also came forward, including Atlantic Windows, who supplied the windows along with Central Supplies.

Photo by Matt Draper
Stacy Boudreau is ready to wait on potential customers at the refurbished ROC Store in Port Hawkesbury.

Diana Poirier, executive director of the ROC society, said the expansion included adding 3,400 square feet to the facility.

Cotton called the improvements a huge step for the ROC and its members.

“This is something we wanted to do for probably 10 years now,” said Cotton. “I know when the executive director signed on there was already some notes taken about doing a clothing store. Other organizations like ours across the province have clothing stores and do really well. For us, it was a huge undertaking. We spent a year fundraising but it only took a year to raise all the money that we needed.”

The overall cost of the project was around $900,000, noting they still have to raise around $58,000.

“We still have a few places we’ve looked for funding,” Cotton said, noting they are selling tickets on a trip to Montreal to see the Montreal Canadiens hit the ice, with the draw taking place in January.